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SENSITIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND EUROPEAN PUBLIC ETHICS (STEPE)
Start date: 01 May 2008, End date: 31 Dec 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"This proposal is to establish a Consortium to provide academic input into the planned Eurobarometer Survey on the Life Sciences and Sensitive Technologies in 2008. It is also intended to add value to the survey and thereby enhance its impact and policy relevance with extensions of a conceptual, contextual and a methodological nature. First, we introduce the concept ‘public ethics’, moving beyond public perceptions to acknowledge that ideas of equity, nature, and responsibility contribute to the public’s assessment of technological innovation. Second, and to maximize policy relevant, the survey findings will be interpreted in the context of national policies on technological innovation and the ways in which national initiatives have, or have not, taken account of public ethics. Third, the consortium will develop tools for valid cross national comparisons, going beyond much current research that merely compares means differences and percentages. Better tools for such comparisons will make it possible to extract much more relevant information from survey research. The EB survey in 2008 will be the seventh in a triennial series that has run since 1991. The EB surveys on Biotechnology are internationally recognised as an authoritative, systematic and dispassionate assessment of the contours of public opinion. The data from these surveys provide both contemporary insights into public perceptions about sensitive technologies and time series data on the evolution and change in public opinion. The past surveys have made important contributions to the informed debates on many developments in biotechnology, most recently seen in a contribution to the European Parliament’s decision on human embryonic stem cell research in 2005. The understanding of the role of public ethics in relation to sensitive technological developments will make an important contribution to the development socially sustainable European and national innovation policies."
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